To Leave is to Die a Little

Robert Easter’s lamenting of the backwash of departing from the Episcopal Church has some merit:

I’m not saying everyone needs to stay in "TEC," because many people who have been in it for any amount of time are probably too conditioned by the milieu to stand up against it or ask the hard questions. But neither do I dare go with a popular, "Come ye out from among them" cry. There are people who need to understand the Truth of the whole Gospel, and we, each, need to get hold of just what that Gospel is, seek the Lord to fill and sanctify us by His Spirit, and carry that Gospel forth. Even to the end of the world, even to the Episcopalians. And be aware that though we reject the sins of those who are the current "poster children" of the Left, we deal with their sins never with anger or disgust, but with tears!

There are two things that I try to keep in front to me when considering the whole Anglican/Episcopal mess:

  1. Orthodox Episcopalians on the whole waited too long to take action to preserve a church consistent with real Biblical Christianity.
  2. They then picked the wrong issue to break over.  This is related to (1).  The whole business of homosexuals in the pews and at the altar is an important one, as I made clear in my reply to Susan Russell.  But when you allow bishops and other clergy (such as James Pike) to openly deny the basics of Christianity such as the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the inspiration of the Scriptures and the like, you can only expect the results we’ve seen in the last two score to take place.

Having said all that, Easter makes a good point in showing that, every time you have a split, you lose something:

When the East and West divided 955 years ago the East got the music and the West got the prose (so to speak). When Leo chased off Martin about 490 years ago Leo kept the form and Martin the function. Zwingli and his followers then added an extra touch of humanism and started the trend in earnest of stripping away everything that didn’t look like "church" at the moment to children of that moment. Every time there is a division in the Church each side comes away with part of the Message and leaves part with the other folks. A good, recent, example would be the splits in the earlier 20th Century over the "Social Gospel" question. The "Evangelicals" who saw evangelism as the Big Thing spent over fifty years refusing to do any practical good for the lost for fear of being like the "Socials" who, in turn, still tend to consider "evangelism" as an ugly word.

Any time you have a split or departure of any kind–be it a church split, a divorce, or whatever–you lose something.  Things get split up between the parties, things that were unified before.  Something always gets lost.  In my prep school French class, there was a saying on the wall: "Partir, c’est mourir un peu."  To leave is to die a little.  That always happens in a departure, and that includes leaving a church.

The whole objective of leaving one church for another–irrespective of whether that departure is individual or corporate–must be to help safeguard the eternal destiny of those involved, and to help those who are leaving lead others to that same saving knowledge.  (Hint–a church that doesn’t believe in a differentiated eternity won’t work to change the destinies of its members or others.)  That’s something we must do as Christians, because that pain of missing the view of the tree that grows in heaven is infinitely worse than what we lose in a church departure or split.  But that doesn’t mean that we need to be so triumphalistic about our departure.  Having left a few churches in my time, I have come to realise that church changes such as this are a necessity.  It’s something we have to do. But we shouldn’t be blind to the reality that something does get lost in the process.

3 thoughts on “To Leave is to Die a Little”

  1. “To leave is to die a little” was first said by the french poet edmond haraucourt (1891), in the famous poem “rondel de l´adieu”,
    “Partir c´est mourir un peu”:

    Partir, c´est mourir un peu,
    C´est mourir à ce qu´on aime…

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